Thursday, October 29, 2015

Local Blogger Involved in Vehicle Accident

Selfie from Valley Baptist, Room 1237
12:30 PM Friday afternoon, traveling down Paredes Line Road toward Boca Chica Blvd., I had an automobile accident. Impact was surreal, with the car's airbags, like cream-colored asteroids, streaming toward me.  I could not turn off the engine as the ignition was smashed into the dash.  The dash was smoking, likely close to an electrical fire.

When I tried to get out of the car, a man stopped me:  "Don't try to move, sir!"  I couldn't move anyway, getting no cooperation from my right leg.

"Nena, I've had an accident, but I'm ok," I spoke into my cell phone.  "I'm waiting for the ambulance to get here."  Nena started crying as I hung up, promising to call her later.

The paramedic approached me on the driver's side.  "Can you walk?" he asked.  I told him I could not. Seeing my bent, twisted right leg, he said:  "We have to straighten this out.  I can't leave your leg that way."  I screamed as he pulled my leg semi-straight.  As if he didn't want to get too close to my smoldering, still-running Volkswagen Beetle, he extended his hand and told me to hop toward him on my left leg and helped me onto the gurney.

Wincing with every bump of the wooden stretcher, I imagined some sort of misting system to cool off the injured as they entered the ambulance.  "We'll get you out of this rain as soon as we can, sir," spoke a voice.

Once inside the ambulance, a cop was asking for my name, age and address.  I handed him my wallet.  "My drivers license is in there.  My insurance papers are in the glove compartment," I told the cop.  "Thanks," he responded.

The ambulance driver radioed ahead to Valley Baptist that he was transporting an accident victim with an ETA of "5-10 minutes."  In my mind, I visualized traveling down Boca Chica, turning left on Central Boulevard, then again on Jefferson Street, but I never opened my eyes to see if that was correct.  Once down the ramp, I was left on the wooden stretcher, more than grateful they didn't try to move me to another bed.  I guess they have more stretchers, I thought to myself.

A heavyset security guard sat in a metal chair, just outside the room, but I was not an escape risk. The guard heard me cry out for pain medication several times before telling me:  "The nurse knows and will be back soon."

Two girls tried to x-ray my right knee, asking me to turn on my left side and hold my right leg just off the bed. I told them: "Hell, no! I can't do that." They said they would try another way.  Twenty minutes later, they were back, explaining that the "pictures weren't good."  This time I suggested they x-ray the upper thigh, the area that was really hurting.

In Room 1237 after a painful transfer to my hospital bed, I got a visit from Dr. Christopher Olson, who explained that I had a broken femur bone and would be operated on noon Saturday. The gruff Anglo was all business, not in a mood for my jokes.  "We're going to connect your femur back together with a titanium rod," Dr. Olson explained.  

"My insurance probably only pays for rebar," I responded.

"I make those decisions," countered Dr. Olson.

I Googled Dr. Olson after he left the room, finding that the orthopedic surgeon was originally from Minnesota.  I read his patient reviews before going to sleep, remembering that he said he'd "done many, many of these."

At 11:45 AM Saturday two staffers arrived to transport me to the operating room.  One was a girl from India named Dipa.  She said the name meant light.  I made a feeble joke about how much that must save the hospital on electricity.  I remember being worried that traction might precede anesthesia, but, allaying that fear, the smooth anesthesiologist said he was giving me something that would "relax me and make me comfortable."  

I told him:  "Nice spin."

Some nurses are grossly underpaid.  Ana, the swing shift nurse, took care of everything before you realized it was a need.  She saw me shivering under the AC and added another blanket. She turned Valley Baptist into a 5-star hotel at 7:00 PM.

Dr. Olson came by Sunday and then again on Monday.  I gave him no back talk.  "You can go home tomorrow if you like," he declared.  "An operation like you had usually justifies a longer stay, but I like to preserve my record."

"I didn't just knock physical therapy out of the park," I replied.  

"You had a serious operation," replied Olson.  "Give it time."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Private Citizen Frank Morris Lobbies for Oscar X; Abbott Appoints De Coss

Former County Republican Chairman Frank Morris
Former Cameron County Republican Chairman Frank Morris, finally retired as a local party official, has nonetheless been active recently, as a private citizen, lobbying Governor Greg Abbott on behalf of Oscar X. Garcia, to fill the vacancy in 445th District Court left by Rolando Olvera, Jr.


The curious aspect of Morris' efforts is that Oscar X., evidently without core values, has recently flipped parties, perhaps evidenced by the predominance of blue in his campaign sign. He states in his Facebook announcement to the left that he's running as a Democrat.  What did Frank Morris know and when did he know it?


District Judge René De Coss
Governor Abbott, however, went in a different direction, appointing local municipal judge,  RenĂ© De Coss, a native of Reynosa, naturalized as a U.S. citizen, to the district judgeship.

Current Republican County Chairman Morgan Graham, indicating she was consulted about the appointment, praised De Coss as "a bright guy, well-educated, honest and humble."  

Cost of Implementing New Logo Approaching $1,000,000

Not-Well-Received New City Logo
The new city logo, not liked by 80% of Brownsville residents responding to Hahn Communications own survey,  is now being implemented by a new city board according to Brownsville Herald reporter Aisha Baskette.

Huckster Ron Oliveira, the slick spokesperson for Hahn Communications, presented the new logo to the City Commission as more than a mere lifeless image, but a branding plan.  The concept of a city or even an individual having or actually being the personification of a brand is patterned after NBA players like Lebron James, who speak of themselves and their brand simultaneously.  Hell, my nephew writes on Facebook about his "brand."  

Adding the initial $140,000 cost of the "branding plan" to the estimated cost of implementation puts the project's burden to the taxpayers up to nearly one million dollars:

"Rosas(Brownsville Public Information Officer, Roxanna Rosas) said that in the plan provided by HAHN, an itemized budget list was provided. Items included paid media (outdoor, print and digital), creative services, owned media, direct marketing, earned media and events, and research. The estimated budget HAHN provided for these services was $820,000."

The City Commission is falling victim to this same rope-a-dope strategy time and again; pay handsomely for a plan or strategy, then pay even more dearly to have that plan "implemented."  

The City of Brownsville now faces the daunting task of putting the new logo on stationary, ball point pens, baseball caps and even the city's fire trucks.  Expensive, indeed!  And, to think, the taxpayers didn't even want it!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Captain Bob's Seafood Owner, Robert Sanchez, Arrested for Assault

Robert Sanchez
From the Brownsville Police Department Facebook site:

Robert Alejandro Sanchez (50)

On October 16, 2015 at approximately 05:40pm, Officers responded to the 100 block of Calle Jacaranda in reference to an assault. Officers arrived and made contact with the victim who advised that Sanchez got home and began arguing with the victim. The victim then advised that he also assault another family member. Officers made contact with Sanchez, who was in one of the bedrooms, and placed him under arrest. Sanchez was charged with two counts of Assault “A” FV. Bond was set at $5000.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

City Commission to Discuss West Rail Options October 21

Graphic by Gilbert Velasquez

It's Official~ Overworked Mayor Tony Martinez Gets Part-Time Help with Burden of City Paperwork

"Whatever Lola Wants"
(Richard Adler, Jerry Ross)


Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets 
And little man, little Lola wants you 
Make up your mind to have (Make up you mind to have) 
No regrets (no regrets) 
Recline yourself Resign yourself, you're through I always get, what I aim for 
And your heart and soul Is what I came for 
Whatever Lola wants (Lola wants) Lola gets (Lola gets) 
Take off your coat 
Don't you know you can't win 
You're no exception to the rule 
I'm irresistible you fool .. give in 
(Give in, you'll never win)


Caricature of Tony "Lola" Martinez by Nena

First, the mayor just HAD to have a downtown office.

Without approval by the City Commission, the mayor committed the City of Brownsville to a lease for the property at 1101-A Washington Street commencing October 8, 2013.

Remodeling on the space was performed by City of Brownsville craftsmen, with four or five trucks parked outside the property in the fall of 2013. The $14,000 remodeling cost the city mentioned in response to a Public Information  Request was for materials only, not labor.  Adding taxpayer insult to taxpayer injury, Mayor Martinez NEVER used the office and the city allowed the lease to expire after one year.

Now, according to Martinez, the burden of city paperwork requires that he have a personal office secretary, paid for by the taxpayers.  Nevermind, that the city already has a City Secretary, Michael L. Lopez, along with a supporting staff.  The mayor, owner of Lola's Bakeshop on Palm Blvd., wants what the mayor wants.

Well, it may not have worked out the way the crybaby mayor preferred.  He tried to bully the city into hiring his longtime assistant, Sandra Saenz as his secretary.  What the City Manager has done instead is post an opening on the City of Brownsville website for a part-time assistant to the mayor AND city commission.

The job will pay $18.5913 per hour for 20 hours per week or $19,334.50 yearly.  Annual and sick leave privileges are included.  

Here is the job description and skill set needed for this position as posted on the city's website:

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF CLASS:
Under general supervision of the City Manager the Assistant to the Mayor and City Commission provides administrative support to the Mayor and City Commissioners and works closely with the Office of the City Manager, conduct research, analysis of data, problem solving, preparation of reports and provides neighborhood communication. Serves as liaison between the Mayor/City Commission's office and outside agencies including local, state and national officials, citizens, delegations from Mexico and various City departments. This is a part-time position that will work a maximum of 20 hours per week.
ESSENTIAL TASKS:
Establishes schedules and methods for providing effective services. 
Handles and processes complaints by working closely with all department heads to expedite requests for service. 
Writes and edits communication materials for the Mayor and City Commission, including speeches, scripts, talking points, and formal correspondence; and independently composes reports and memoranda for the Mayor and City Commission. 
Gathers and manages the flow of information to the Mayor and the City Commission, as requested. 
Prepares the Mayor and City Commission for presentations, speeches, and official appearances at town hall meetings, meetings/conferences with specific citizens, special interest groups, etc.   
Attends City Commission meetings and assists in assessing situations and gathering information to present for Mayor and City Commission. 
Assists in aligning opinions and recommendations presented to the Mayor and City Commission for effective outcomes.  
Assists in the support of a variety of boards and commissions, serving as departmental representative on special projects, committees, and task forces as assigned. 
Organizes and sets up meetings and conferences with citizens, delegations from Mexico, local state or national elected officials, etc. 
Promotes, organizes and stimulates good public relations with community special interest groups and elected officials. 
Provides a weekly report to the Commission regarding current and upcoming events.
Coordinates and prepares for the City Commission retreats and other projects as assigned by the City Manager. 
Performs other related duties as assigned.
INVOLVEMENT WITH DATA, PEOPLE, AND THINGS
DATA INVOLVEMENT:
Requires planning and directing others in the sequence of major activities and reporting on operations and activities which are very broad in scope.
PEOPLE INVOLVEMENT:
Requires coordinating or leading others while maintaining harmonious relations and promoting efficiency.
INVOLVEMENT WITH THINGS:
Requires using equipment requiring moderate instruction and experience such as computers, software programs such as word processing, spreadsheets or custom applications; or may service office machines.
COGNITIVE REQUIREMENTS
REASONING REQUIREMENTS:
Must be able to manage time efficiently with self-initiative and oversee assignments through completion using mature judgment.
MATHEMATICAL REQUIREMENTS:
Requires using basic algebra involving variables and formulas and/or basic geometry involving plane and solid figures, circumferences, areas, and volumes and/or computing discounts and interest rates.
LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS:
Requires reading journals, manuals, and professional publications; speaking informally to groups of co-workers, staff in other organizational agencies, general public, people in other organizations, and presenting training; composing original reports, training and other written materials, using proper language, punctuation, grammar, and style. Bilingual language skills preferred.
MENTAL REQUIREMENTS:
Requires performing professional level work requiring the application of principles and practices in a wide range of administrative, technical, or managerial methods in the solution of administrative or technical problems; or the coordination of entry level managerial work; requires general understanding of operating policies and procedures and the ability to apply these to complex administrative problems; requires continuous, close attention for accurate results or frequent exposure to unusual pressures.
JUDGMENTS AND DECISIONS
JUDGMENTS AND DECISIONS:
Responsible for actions of others requiring constant decisions affecting subordinate workers, customers, clients, or others in the general public; work in a very fluid environment with guidelines but significant variation.
VOCATIONAL/ EDUCATIONAL AND EXPERIENCE PREPARATION
VOCATIONAL/ EDUCATIONAL PREPARATION:
Bachelor's degree in English, Business Administration, Public Administration, or executive secretarial certificate program or equivalent in years of experience.
SPECIAL CERTIFICATION AND LICENSES:
Valid Texas Drivers License.
EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS:
Two years of clerical experience assisting an elected official or high-level private executive. Advanced word processing and computer skills. Must be able to type 50-60 words per minute, accurately.
AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT REQUIREMENTS
PHYSICAL AND DEXTERITY REQUIREMENTS:
Requires light work that involves walking or standing most of the time and exerting up to 20 pounds of force on a regular and recurring basis, or skill, adeptness and speed in the use of fingers, hands or limbs on repetitive operation of mechanical or electronic office machines or tools within moderate tolerances or limits of accuracy.
ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS:
The job risks exposure to no significant environmental hazards.
SENSORY REQUIREMENTS:
The job requires normal visual acuity and field of vision, hearing, and speaking.
ADA COMPLIANCE:
The City of Brownsville is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  ADA requires the City to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities.  Prospective and current employees are invited to discuss accommodations.
BENEFITS:
The City of Brownsville offers sick and annual leave.
This class specification should not be interpreted as all-inclusive.  It is intended to identify the essential functions and requirements of this job.  The incumbents may be requested to perform job related responsibilities and tasks other than those stated in this specification.  This job description is subject to change in response to funding variables, emerging technologies, improved operating procedures, productivity factors, and unforeseen events.  This updated job description supersedes prior descriptions for the same position.  Management reserves the right to add or change duties at any time.
This position is contingent upon continued availability of funds.

Police Beat~Former City of Brownsville Officials Facing Charges

Former Brownsville Planning, Zoning
Director, Noe Puga
Two former City of Brownsville officials now face serious criminal charges. Former Planning and Zoning Director Noe Puga was charged with six counts of forgery, six counts of tampering with government records and one count of theft by a public servant.

Puga retired from the City of Brownsville August 2015.







Former Brownsville Purchasing
Director, David Covarrubias
In an unrelated matter, David Covarrubia, a former City of Brownsville Purchasing Director in the 90's, was arrested and charged having sex with an underage boy.

Covarrubia was caught trying to take the boy, reportedly a runaway, into Mexico, via Brownsville's Gateway Bridge.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Tony's Incessant Bullying of City Commission Encountering Resistance

Mayor Tony Martinez, Not A Consensus Builder
Calling the shots at a law office does not require the consensus building needed by a mayor in a weak-mayor form of government like Brownsville's.  In this system the mayor has no authority outside the city commission. He cannot appoint or remove officials or veto commission decisions.  He votes only in the case of a tie.  

The skill set needed for success in such a setup involves fostering consensus, reasoning and convincing colleagues of what's best for the city.

Mayor Martinez, from the outset of his administration has used a different approach;  bullying, clandestine use of city funds, controlling discussion of agenda items with misapplications of Robert's Rules of Order and the proverbial backdoor deals.  

Tony's Downtown Office, Remodeled and Leased
at Taxpayer Expense, But Never Used by the Mayor
In his first City Commission meeting as mayor in 2011, Martinez boorishly stripped two young commissioners, Villarreal and Chavez-Vasquez of the longstanding privilege of nominating two constituents from their districts to fill vacancies on city boards. Later, he would unethically tap into a $3,060,000 Texas AEP refund, bypassing the City Commission for his own personal pet projects.  A personal phone call between Martinez and an unnamed UT official(likely Juliet Garcia) resulted in the proposed gifting of precious Lincoln Park to one of the world's richest university systems.

Now, into his second city-damaging term, Martinez is allegedly pushing for one of his longtime assistants, Sandra A. Saenz, to be hired as his personal mayoral secretary.  Of course, by City Charter, neither hiring Mrs. Saenz or creating the new position is Tony's call. Martinez did sneak a $50,000 addendum into the budget to allow for Saenz' prospective salary.

What may be heartening is what we've heard is the reaction to yet another abuse of power by the Mayor.  Commissioners Longoria, Portillo, Villarreal and Tetreau have been reported as opposed to this heavy-handed move.  Only Commissioner Rose Gowen remains stoic in her unqualified support of the Mayor.  City Manager Charlie Cabler cites a need for "due process" and "the most qualified applicant,"according to someone within city administration.

Will the City Commission and City Manager muster the strength to reign in the reckless mayor?

Sifting Through the 27 Pages of Documents on City Commission's Trip to Washington DC

First of all, let's reprint the cover letter written by City Secretary Michael L. Lopez spinning the city's version of how the Washington DC trip was financed, the intinerary, etc.:

Please note that Lopez states the the "trip was not paid for by the City of Brownsville, but rather, by the individual members of the City Commission."

That is not exactly true.  The city advanced the money to four commissioners; Tetreau, Portillo, Villarreal and De Leon for the trip commencing 9/22/2015.  It was AFTER my Public Information Request and blog article about the trip of 9/23/2015 that the commissioners reimbursed the city for all or a part of the monies fronted for the trip.

Lopez continues in the letter:  "The records show that a number of meetings were originally set up for members of the Commission with various federal officials and agencies.  . . . . Many of these meetings were unexpectedly cancelled after the tickets were purchased because of the pope's visit."


Perry Finney Brody, Chief of Staff for
Representative Filemon Vela
Shedding some light on the cancellation of scheduled meetings is a memo from Perry Finney Brody, Chief of Staff for Representative Filemon Vela, dated 9/17/2015(In other words, the commissioners knew five days before the trip that the scheduled meetings would likely be cancelled.):  

Subject:  RE:  DC Trip-Delegation Information

Attached is the itinerary.  We only have three meetings scheduled-FCC, EDA and Septime Webre.  Please note:

FCC:  Hopefully, the FCC will not decide to close like many other agencies are planning to do.  Their office is not far from the area where the roads are closed, so it is a possibility.

EDA:  The Department of Commerce is now closed on Sept. 23 because of the pope.  Most people will not be in the building on Sept. 24 but Barrett Haga has kindly offered to come in and meet with the Brownsville delegation.

DHS:  will not have anyone available to speak to the delegation Wed or Thurs because they will be helping with the pope's visit. They would be happy to meet a different week or do a conference call later.

FEMA:  Commissioner de Leon and I had a conference call yesterday with Jason Nelson of FEMA and I forwarded to him materials Jason sent me.  I think he is going to review them and then circle back with me.


Commissioner Cesar de Leon
An included City of Brownsville Expense Report indicates that Commissioner Cesar de Leon was initially advanced, but later reimbursed the city for $1,161.07 including $762.57 for lodging, $248.50 for meals, $141.93 for taxi, 438,20 for airfare, etc.

De Leon also included a memorandum sent to City Finance Director Lupe Granado, detailing his work for the city during the trip.  De Leon states that on 9/22 he "met the Department of the Secretary of State to discuss border issues and the new Consulate of Matamoros."  On 9/23: "A meeting was held with FCC officials, at which time other officials were conferenced in to discuss high speed internet and a grand for BISD."  9/24:  "Met with the Department of Commerce officials to discuss grant opportunities and Economic Development.  Met with the Hispanic Caucus and Congressman Filemon Vela."

9/25:  "5:30 am Return Flight back to Brownsville.  Attended a meeting with MPO upon my return."


Commissioner John Villarreal Attends
Ballet Conference
Participating in a meeting with Septime Webre, Artistic Director of the Washington Ballet was Commissioner John Villarreal. The meeting was held at the Washington Ballet Studios, 3515 Wisconsin Avenue.  

Villarreal reimbursed the city for his $486.11 plane ticket. Commissioner Jessica Tetreau reimbursed the city for $974.56 including $466.20 for airfare, $508.38 for hotel, paying with check #3618.  Commissioner Deborah Portillo reimbursed the city for a $437.20 plane ticket.


Public Information Request Found in Junk Mail Folder Late Friday

City Secretary Michael Lopez 
After complaining that we did not receive the Public Information Request concerning the Washington DC trip by three City Commissioners, along with the Mayor, we found those documents in our junk mail folder late Friday.  The email was dated 10/9/2015 @2:21 PM, approximately two days late.  

The following cover letter, signed by City Secretary Michael L. Lopez was dated 10/8/2015:


We are still studying the other documents enclosed and will give a synopsis tomorrow.

Friday, October 9, 2015

City of Brownsville Has Not Responded to Our Request for Information on City Commissioner's Trip to Washington, DC

Aided by the Public Information Act and swift responses by former City Secretary Estela Von Hatten, we were able to document much of the extraordinary amount of travel last year by our city government.  While the City Commission and city administrators like Pete Gonzalez and Lupe Granado give lip service to economizing and cutting corners, hundreds of thousands of dollars squandered annually with unnecessary travel.

Brownsville Delegation in Fort Worth, 2014
Frequently, large groups from the city go to a single conference, multiplying the expense.  Last year TEN from the city went to the Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference while FIFTEEN went to Denver to seek artificial designation as an "All-America City."  

Brownsville's Much Traveled
Health Director, Arturo Rodriguez
In 2014, Health Director Art Rodriguez spent half of several months in some sort of conference. Adding the travel to his admittedly spending considerable office time readying Brownsville All-America City application, it makes one wonder how much actual work is done serving the health, safety and sanitation needs of Brownsville residents.

With this backdrop, we're disappointed to report that our Public Information Request, submitted to new City Secretary Michael L. Lopez September 22, 2015, concerning a delegation from the City of Brownsville traveling to Washington D.C. for the pope's visit, has yet to receive a response.

Here is the original email:

Jim Barton

9/22/15
To: public.inforequest@cob.us

Mr. Lopez,


I understand a contingent from the City of Brownsville have accompanied Mayor Martinez on a trip to Washington, DC to see the Pope. How is the trip being paid for? If it is being funded by the city or a taxpayer-funded entity, please share how much this is costing? Also, please indicate which city officials or administrators were included in the trip.


Thanks,

Jim Barton


"We Don't Give A Shit What the Taxpayers Want or Need!" Port of Brownsville Commissioners

Graphic Courtesy of #CitizensAgainstPollution

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Joseph Cantu Files for County Commissioner Place 1

Joseph Cantu and Daughter

October 2015 Map of Drug Cartels in Mexico




Getting From Point "A" to Point "B" in the City of Brownsville

The Past Comes Back to Haunt Estela Chavez-Vasquez As She Runs for Cameron County Court At Law Place 5

Estela Chavez-Vasquez
Former City Commissioner Estela Chavez-Vasquez has burned some bridges that increase the difficulty of her current pursuit of the office of Judge at Cameron County Court of Law Place 5.

Her campaign for City Commissioner At-Large "A" in 2011 was vigorously supported by Brownsville's firemen and paramedics, yet when the opportunity came to approve their contract, Estela voted "no."  She will get no such support in her current campaign.

A reader has sent us a message of a similar development within Brownsville's Rotary Club.  Apparently, Chavez-Vasquez recently applied for membership in the club to enhance her resume':  

"Some years ago when Estela Chavez Vasquez was running for city commissioner, she was accepted as a member of the Rotary Club of Brownsville; she joined but as soon as she was elected, she abandoned the club and, oh, she didn't pay her dues, yet she claimed club membership and used it to boost her image. 

Now, she's running for CCAL and, wouldn't you know it, she got herself nominated for membership in the Rotary Club of Brownsville. This time, however, the results were different: the club's board of directors unanimously voted 'nay' on her membership! She, thus, has been rejected for membership and will not be able to flaunt Rotary as one of her civic services."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Self-Serving, Arrogant Port Director Edward Campirano Promotes LNG

Port of Brownsville Director Eduardo Campirano
Brownsville and Cameron County have a shitpot full of "public servants" like Port Director Eduardo Campirano, but need none.  The instant Campirano and two other port officials chowed down on that $1,800 taxpayer-subsidized meal in Shanghai, China, they disqualified themselves as stewards of public money and interests.  It bears mentioning that the Port of Brownsville threesome did not choke on that extravagant meal or lose sleep over the expensive burden to the country's poorest taxpayers, but simply defecated that grub, then went back the next day for $1,600 more of the pricey fare, inviting the BEDC's Jason Hilts to share in the gluttony.  

Not surprisingly, the Port of Brownsville, an entity that should be self-supporting with proper leadership, continues to rely on millions of dollars of locally-generated taxpayer monies to continue operation.  Port Director Campirano, in a Brownsville Herald Letter to the Editor,  has the audacity to push for the proposed LNG plants to be strewn from the Port of Brownsville to near the city limits of Port Isabel.  While parroting the platitudes of Big Oil and Gas, Camparino gives us his schoolgirl description of LNG:  

"LNG is the liquefied form of the natural gas that people use in their homes for cooking and heating, and has been safely handled for many years." (Eduardo Camparino, Letter to the Editor, Brownsville Herald, 10/5/2015.)

Yes, doofus, but LNG plants do not simply burn natural gas like grandma heating tortillas on her two burner range!  

The purpose of an LNG plant is to condense natural gas into a liquid so it can be shipped economically.  That process, extremely complex, requires an ENORMOUS amount of energy and releases hydrocarbons, mercury, hydrogen sulfide and other contaminants into the atmosphere.  Millions of gallons of hot effluent must also be disposed daily, likely in our case, into the pristine estuaries and bird sanctuaries of eastern Cameron County.

The Chyoda Corporation of Yokohma, Japan, builder of the world's largest LNG plants, explains the process:  





A liquefied natural gas plant (LNG plant) is roughly divided into five processes: (1) pretreatment, (2) acid gas removal, (3) dehydration, (4) liquefaction and (5) heavy oil separation.

(1) In the pretreatment process, undesired substances are removed from the gas taken from a gas field. Then the gas is separated using a slug catcher into oil and water which are
Slug Catcher
then weighed.

(2)Natural gas taken from a gas field contains environmental pollutants like hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2). These impure substances are absorbed and removed from natural gas with an amine absorber (acid gas removal or AGR). With the use of a sulfur removal unit (SRU), sulfur is extracted from the hydrogen sulfide in the removed pollutant.

(3)An adsorbent is used to remove water from the natural gas from which impure substances have been removed so that ice will not form during the subsequent liquefaction process.

(4)Traces of harmful mercury are removed before liquefaction.
Sulfur Removal Unit


(5)The heavy compounds separation process is the core of an LNG plant in which natural gas is cooled and liquefied to –160°C or less using the principle of refrigeration. Because gas is cooled and liquefied to an extremely-low temperature during the process, an enormous amount of energy is consumed. How much this energy can be reduced is important, so various ingenious processes have been proposed and commercialized.

Major liquefaction processes are as follows:

1)C3-MR method: The C3-MR method is currently the main method. Propane and mixed coolants (nitrogen, methane, ethane and propane) are used as the coolant (APCI), and an improvement on this method called the AP-X method is also used for large LNG plants.

2)AP-X method: As liquefaction trains get larger, they approach a limit on the size of heat exchanger that can be produced and transported. This process can increase LNG production capacity by adding LNG sub-coolers with nitrogen coolant used according to the C3-MR method, without increasing the size of the main heat exchanger (APCI).

3)Cascade method: This method sequentially uses propane, ethylene and methane as the coolant (Phillips).
Add caption


4)DMR method: This method uses two kinds of mixed coolants (an ethane and propane mix and a nitrogen-methane, ethane and propane mix) (Shell).

5) SMR method: This method is called the PRICO process and uses only one kind of mixed coolant (Black & Veatch).

All of these methods require enormous refrigeration compressors. Gas turbines used for giant power plants are used to drive them, so elaborate engineering based on experience and high-level knowledge is required to design, produce and assemble the compressors and gas turbines. 

Governor Greg Abbott Tweets Words of Wisdom for Dallas Cowboys and Texas/Mexico Border

(Graphic Courtesy of Diego Lee Rot)
*#%>¥! defense. More porous than the Texas border.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

She's Baaaaack!!!! Estela Chavez-Vasquez Is Running for Judge!

Estela Chavez-Vasquez, who left the City Commission last year, moving to Los Fresnos, is now running for Cameron County Court at Law #5.  

This campaign sign, among several placed yesterday on Minnesota Avenue in Brownsville, describes Vasquez as a "Humble Public Servant Committed to Justice for All."